In 2000, Charity Heppner-Graff, the eldest daughter of Denie Heppner, moved to the Philippines with her family to help expand the services of Gentle Hands. In 2001, Charity and her husband founded Gentle Hands Educational Foundation, hoping to bring education to street kids and out-of-school youth. They taught children to read and write in their own language where ever they could; in the garage of their home and under the bridges where the poor lived. Because of the need to offer basic education to these children and to ensure they had food, clothing and a safe study environment, in 2002, the D.A.V.I.D. Boys Educational Program was added. Also in 2002, the Jason’s Home Program was added to address the many children that were being brought to Gentle Hands needing short-term medical intervention, and rehabilitation. In 2003, Gentle Hands was licensed and registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development as a Residential & Child Residential Facility.
In December of 2005, the birthing clinic was closed in order to make space for the many children that needed rescuing and rehabilitation and for the many boys that needed to be educated. In October of 2008, the decision was made to close the Boys Program and focus solely on the Jason’s Home and the Foster Care Program for the children.
Charity and Evan continue to serve the Philippines in various roles. Charity is Executive Director of Gentle Hands Inc. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lee University in Christian Ministries. In 2013, she received her Master’s in Social Work from Asian Seminary for Christian Ministries, and finished her Master’s thesis entitled “Social Work and Caregiver Practices that Promote Attachment of Children Who Have Experienced Trauma”. Charity also has attended extensive trainings and seminars on on trauma, attachment, and play therapy. She believes strongly in providing holistic interventions to children who come from trauma and advocating for the rights of children and the poor. As Executive Director, Charity oversees all aspects of Jason’s Home and Baby Ann’s Mission, including case management, staff trainings and management, daily operations, education, counseling, teams and volunteers, medical unit, rescue, rehabilitation, reunification, foster care, and adoption. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting.
Evan works as a full-time high school teacher at Faith Academy, an international school for the children of missionaries. He serves as a basketball coach, and is a leader and mentor for many students. Charity and Evan have six children: Jason, Noah, Elijah, Merry Faye, Sarah Joy, and Colin. All are avid coffee drinkers (except for Colin, who enjoys Sprite).